Woodstock set I bakspejlet

“Side 33 kan nu eksklusivt bringe forfatter Brian Hassett’s essay om Woodstock 50”

Fotograf: Diverse - venligst udlån af Brian Hassett (t.h. på foto)

Den amerikanske forfatter Brian Hassett er om nogen en udtryksfuld kulturpersonlighed, der gør indtryk. Tjek bare hans blog Brianland via brianhassett.com – og se hvad vi mener. Der bliver sat ord på og udtrykt sig om de store beatforfattere, eventyr, politik, musik, film, poesi og andre gode livsnydelser. Han har udgivet et utal af roste og anerkendte bøger – blandt andet naturligvis om Woodstock.

Vi bringer her på siden hans essay – i sin fulde og uredigerede form – dog i 2 dele – vedrørende tiden op til og dagene omkring 50-års dagen for Woodstock festivalen. Her var han blandt andet tilbage til Bethel Woods – der hvor det hele jo eksploderede tilbage i august 1969.  Det gjorde det ikke i 2019 – men Brian Hassett kunne konstatere, at ånden fra dengang lever i mange gode mennesker, der kom til fra alle dele af verdenen.

A Festival of Festival – by Brian HassettPart 1

I said somewhere on social media leading up to the Woodstock 50th that it should and would be experienced by people in different ways all over the world. “Friends not corporations create Woodstock.” There was no required location or situation. As Jerry Garcia said of the Beats — “… it was a way of seeing.”

And in the Yasgur’s farm area of Upstate New York, there were a lot of different eyeballs tuned in to a lot of different scenes.

I’m disappointed there wasn’t a giant unifying singular one-time-ever festival (like on the 25th in ’94 that was so great it I wrote a whole book about it!) — something that drew the so-inclined from 18 to 80 like the best of the gatherings I attend attract — but what this was was a festival of festivals. Just as the modern-day fests offer multiple stages with eclectic choices all day & night, plus art installations, a million food choices, camping, and friends reuniting and all that jazz — so too did the 50th Woodstock cumulatively create a collection of different stages & events all along the deservedly legendary Route 17B in Sullivan County.

There was Santana playing his evolved world-beat large-ensemble super-pro act at the high-end amphitheater stage at Bethel Woods with tickets scalping for $400 . . . and there was Melanie playing solo for free from the big front porch of the very cool Catskill Distillery. There was Melvin Seals closing opening night at the Yasgur’s Road farmhouse, and Grace Potter opening closing night at Bethel Woods. There was the Puerto Rico soulman showman Fantuzzi leading his eclectic collective through a Little-Richard-meets-the-Mothers-of-Invention show with a relativistic crowd dancing in revery in front of the family stage at Arrowhead Ranch, and there’s Arlo Guthrie on the big stage at Bethel Woods with the whole front of it cordoned off for paying VIPs.

There’s the touristy t-shirt stores all along the roadway with actual non-ironic “Welcome Hippies!” signs — the opposite of the locals’ “No Hippies Here!” reaction the first time. And there’s the master tie-dye artist Yano displaying a gorgeous 50-foot tapestry for the 50th that took 400 hours to make . . . that he did just to make people happy, not to make money.

There’s the full 180 degree spectrum of profiteers and performers; of straight-streets in seersucker and street-people in sleeping bags; of old people with canes and young people with . . . wait a minute. That was the problem — that Miley Cyrus, The Killers et al would have solved at Watkins Glen, like Cypress Hill, Green Day & such did in Saugerties at the 25th in ’94. There were no young people here. Or very damn few — but there were more at the remote satellite events. In fact — the Furthur away a site was from the original location, the younger people were there. Arrowhead Ranch in Liberty (where the Holiday Inn was that all the performers stayed at and were helicopter shuttled to the concert field in ’69) was where a buncha the under-30s went for Rose’s well-curated anniversary festival. Also at Hector’s Inn — where I never noticed a cover charge all weekend — just $10 to park and you’re in to where there were faces without wrinkles dancing around bonfires with musicians. What it was was diverse scene-wise. You could do the VIP packages in perfect pampered conditions for Ringo Starr, Carlos Santana and John Fogerty for thousands of dollars a night. Or you could find a place in the ample woods to camp and listen to music for free for days and nights on end and meet like-minded people from all over the world. Bethel Woods came up with this “Travel Pass” idea to scare cars n people away, and maybe it kinda worked — cuz the only thing that caused traffic delays was cars lined up at Hurd Road to check for these stupid Travel Passes!

But on a heavier level, I learned from an insider they were concerned about a mass-shooting situation and had done extensive training and planning and screening which all ultimately resulted in a Gratefully safe weekend. Somebody or ‘bodies who didn’t like Western ways or liberal mores would sure have a way to make a point in this pointed place. A friend told me her parents were worried about her coming — but not cuz of sex & drugs like it prolly was in ’69. They were worried about her getting shot.

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